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Writing from the Columbia River Basin

Holiday Presence (& Free Printable)

Holiday Presence (& Free Printable)

Last weekend, we made the drive to visit friends in Bozeman, MT. A few hours after we arrived, my Mom called. My Grandma, the one who helped raise me, who drove me to orthodontics appointments and fed me Hershey bars out of her freezer, has a terminal cancer diagnosis.

Fuck.

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I get my pride and my stubborn from the maternal side of my family. I know my Grandma enough to know she doesn't want a big fuss. All her things are in order. Her and my Mom are practical to the ends of themselves. I've learned from both of them how plans can be a love language.

I sit on the floor of my friend's kitchen with my glass of wine. She's been a friend since my first days of college and I've been on this kitchen floor with her before. We make plans to go skiing.

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It's a five-mile skin into the ridge line and there's lots of time to think, whether I like it or not. I think about how my grandmother and mother have molded the mountains I stand on. My grandmother was the original feminist in my life, even if she never used the word. Married the day after receiving her college degree, she later divorced and went back to school. She worked as a  psychologist. She taught me how to invest my money. She's been a matriarch in all the best ways - with none of the drama and all of the backbone.

It can feel like a shitty time to be a woman with all this #metoo and pay gap and war on a woman's right to decide what happens in her own body. And there's no room for complacency there. But I also remember that fifty years ago, many banks wouldn't let women have their own accounts. I remember that women were only cooks, not river guides. I remember that sexual assault and harassment were never discussed. When I graduated from college, my grandmother said, "Look at all your options. You can do anything."

She didn't mean it would be easy, she just saw how much more space there was for women to be the people they want to be.

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And here we are, doing anything - a freelance journalist and a PHD candidate and a MS candidate climbing with me up above the reservoir and above the other tallest mountains. I'm not making a fuss but I know that I'm here because of that quiet, strong heart of my Grandmother. It will be an honor to keep walking her dreams forward, even when she's no longer here.

This holiday season it feels extra important to be present with loved ones.

I'm going to take some extra travel and time off to spend time with family in northern Idaho.  I've made a tradition of taking some time away from social media at the end of the year. I like the extra space for presence with friends and family. I like the break for self-reflection, goal setting and preparing for the year ahead. I think social media can be a tool used productively or unproductively - and this time of year, I always just find myself a little tired of it.

Growing up, our cardboard advent calendar was one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Modeling on that tradition, I put together a #holidaypresence social media cleanse advent calendar. If you want to go cold turkey, or if you just want an idea each day for how to connect off your Instagram or Snapchat or Facebook, I hope you'll use it however it best fits you.

A heads-up that there's a lot of humor and some swearing in the calendar because... no sense in being too serious at this sunless time of year.

I may write a blog or two in December or it might just not happen. Either way - hoping you and yours have a warm, cozy holiday.

With love,

Emerald

The Hunt/Thankful

The Hunt/Thankful